Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue (SBCSAR)

SBCSAR team members responded shortly after 2:30pm [Saturday] afternoon to the reports of 2 lost hikers that had also run out of water in the backcountry on the Santa Cruz trail near Little Pine Mountain. Team members quickly organized a response plan which included high clearance 4×4 vehicles and a pair a side-by-side UTVs for quick access from the Upper Oso area of the Santa Ynez River area.

GPS coordinates had been obtained by the emergency dispatch center and were validated by the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit Copter 2. Having the Copter in the air helped to confirm the location of and make first contact with the subjects via the public address system onboard while also providing trail recon of the area to insert team members onto the trail. The air support on the call was lost when it had to divert to a possible water rescue off Isla Vista.

Team members first met up with California Fish & Wildlife officers who where in the area on patrol and team members made best access to the Santa Cruz Trail via a 350’ trail off the Santa Cruz Jeepway. From this spot, team members hiked 2.5 miles up the trail to the subjects location. Upon arriving at the two subjects, an evaluation of their condition was provided along with water and food. The subjects were in good condition but extremely thirsty having been out of water since mid-late morning when also jettisoning their packs in an attempt to make better time on the trail and to the next water source while enduring the 100°+ temperatures in the area.

Once hydrated and determined to be in a condition to hike down the trail, team members escorted the two subjects to the SAR insertion point on the trail where they were met by additional team members and a rope hand line back up to the SAR vehicles. All teams and the subjects proceeded up the jeep way and back out to the Buckhorn Rd to Upper Oso where the subjects were released at their vehicle.

Teams were back at the station just before 9pm to wash and put equipment away and be ready for the next response.


Written by Anonymous

What do you think?


1 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. Umm . . . Let’s see here. 100º+F today. We’ll need at least 16oz of water apiece, some weighty stuff in our packs. Hats or no hats? Hmm. Vague idea of the area and where we’re going and how long we’ll be gone. Topo map? Nah. We’ve got cell phones. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget cell phones, in case we get lost . . .

  2. As some have already alluded to….be careful what you believe from SBCoSheriff or in this case SAR. Copter 2 was not assigned to the water rescue, it was 308, the blue and white Fire one. This incident began at 2:30 with contact and trail direction well established long before the 4:52 call for water rescue which was completely over by 5:06 pm. So called diversion would have been 14 minutes plus a very short flight time if already airborne….not enough to hamper the hikers who were not in any real danger or they would have air lifted them out.

  3. This is not the right season for backpacking in that area. In this heat, 4 liters per day minimum. If they didn’t start with 2 gallons in their backpacks then that was their first decision in the direction of becoming a statistic. Nature sets the terms, and you must choose to accept.

  4. No need to shame these people. They did a foolish thing that hopefully they’ll never do again. When your life was at risk you tend to remember the lesson of the consequences of being unprepared very clearly.

  5. It’s hard to tell from the article if they were just day hiking or on an overnight backpacking trip. At any rate they seem like they were inexperienced and lacking several of the 10 essentials. No one plans for their day hike to turn into a life threatening overnight ordeal.

  6. The Santa Cruz Trail has been hammered by fire and by mountain bike overuse, and there is that horse trough with a trickle about a mile below Alexander Saddle (south side)…past this A. Saddle there is Little Pine Spring, but it’s a huge hassle scrambling down there, and often as not the spring isn’t running or is a minimal seep. There had been hot weather advisories, and these guys were not fully prepared. When I do this — heading for Santa Cruz Camp [10.5 miles from Upper Oso] — it would be hiking by 5:30 a.m., at least 5 liters of water, and know beforehand if the Sta. Cruz Creek is running at the USFS site (next to the Cabin). But then, I am too old to try it at all during summer; October is a great time as also May. Glad these guys made it out, kudos to SARS.

  7. I can’t stand disinformation! It has officially been posted by multiple trail user groups that the Santa Cruz trail was severely damaged by the Rey Fire back in 2016. Even since 2007 the portion past Alexander Saddle down towards the guard station had been demolished by the Zaca Fire. Add in lack of funds by the Forest Service (also lack of will and priority), some nasty rainfall events, neglect and it’s been quite obvious for awhile how fire and flood impact our backcountry recreational options. It is also posted at trailhead signs warning of severe damage and impassability. Mountain bikers have nothing to do with the state it’s in, in fact, they have been the most consistent user group to try and help maintain it. Davy Brown should get his/her facts straight before accusing folks who have the right to recreate in our forest on they trails they are allowed on. Maybe he/she should roll up their sleeves and give back some. Nonetheless, the hikers choose to ignore the warnings, and almost paid the price.

  8. It maybe too sensible – why aren’t there emergency water station along some of these trails in the event someone runs out of water? Could be a couple of gallon jugs in a bear box during the summer months. Stocked by volunteers & restocked by users. Significantly cheaper than a call out

Nonprofit Launches Donation Drive for Seniors with Pets

CPR Performed on State Street